American Chopper, the hit show about a father and son crafting custom motorcycles and bitterly battling all the while, is back on Discovery. Paul Teutul Sr. and Jr. star in the unscripted series, which aired on Discovery and TLC from 2002 to 2012 and returned last summer. Season two of the reboot starts Feb. 12.
Paul Jr. spoke with Multichannel News about why they came back, how he and his dad fixed their relationship and a very special guest on the new season.
MCN: Who pushed for the show to come back, you guys or Discovery?
Paul Teutul Jr.: We were on that 10-year run from 2002 to 2012, then it was time to take a break. We were good for a couple years, and then I was starting to get the itch to do it again. Discovery really wanted it but my father and I weren’t able to get on the same page.
I think it was just timing. [Discovery Inc. president and CEO] David Zaslav said, “We’re bringing Chopper back.” I was ready and my father was ready.
MCN: What was the key to you guys getting on the same page?
PT: The call to do the show is what got things going. It certainly motivated everybody to start trying to figure things out. It kind of forced us to get back together. And then once we got there, we realized that we like each other. This is a process and it’s still early stages. People get to hopefully watch the full reconciliation of our relationship in real time. There are some awkward moments early on, which is fine. We’re in process.
Once we started being around each other, we had great reminiscing conversations and started laughing. Slowly but surely, we started to regain trust. We’re not on the phone every day or hanging out, but it’s improving.
MCN: Are you and your dad partners in the bike business or working separately?
PT: We work separately. We have completely different companies. We’re building bikes for separate clients.
The format is the same as [American Chopper spinoff] Senior vs. Junior, but the big game-changer is the fact that we are getting along. We’re spending time together. We’re doing some projects this season, like a ’51 Buick, the same car his grandfather had. We’re having a tremendous amount of fun doing it. The fun is back in the show.
This run of eight episodes is gonna be the most like the first couple seasons of American Chopper that we’ve had in a decade.
We’re not working together in the capacity we were as far as building bikes, although you never know what might transpire. We’re very particular about keeping our brands separate. I’ve been in business for myself for 10 years and OCC [Orange County Choppers] has been in business for 20 years.
At the end of the day, we like to keep ourselves separate. But we’re finding that we’re enjoying spending time together, we’re enjoying doing projects together and we’re building some of the best bikes in the history of American Chopper.
MCN: What’s your highlight of the season?
PT: Me and my wife were listening to an XM station and they mentioned something about John Lennon’s motorcycle coming up for auction in England. It’s the only one he ever owned. He had it on his estate just before he came to the States. There’s a great picture of John with [son] Julian on the bike when Julian was like five years old.
This was a Honda Monkey bike that John would ride to George’s house, would ride to Ringo’s house. I just thought it was the neatest thing, and we got it.
When the crate got to the shop, I said, Man, I’m not even gonna open this thing. I’ll see if I can get a hold of Julian. This season, Julian comes to the shop and we unearth this motorcycle that his father drove around on to other Beatles’ houses.
It was the first time Julian had seen the bike in about 50 years.
MCN: What are you watching for fun?
PT: I’m afraid to say I’m watching Downton Abbey. I don’t know if that’s gonna give me any street cred.
MCN: What’s your go-to bike?
PT: The Black Widow. It’s [from] the first episode we did for the series. The Black Widow is probably the most iconic chopper on American Chopper. When it’s time to ride, I get on the Black Widow and go.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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